The craft of songwriting is akin to numerous other creative mediums, such as coming up with the vision for a painting or the idea for a film and putting it on canvas for the former and on screen for the latter. The composition for a song can be wide-ranging and when it’s part of an album it can be similar to a chapter in a book. There’s room for versatility with a consistent foundation being the jump off point for each installment. For Providence singer-songwriter Maddie McGill, she did her own take on this process for her debut full-length “Surrender” that came out on December 10. Her skills on piano are the anchor for each track with stellar instrumentation and arrangements giving her music a well-rounded feel, tone and quality.
While the making of the album took only a couple months, everything that happened leading up to the time in the recording studio took a whole lot longer. Some songs off of the album are nearly a decade old while others were written a year or two ago.
“I wrote these songs acoustically on piano over the years,” McGill says about the making of the album. “The earliest, ‘Waiting For’, I wrote in 2015, and ‘Hope Street’, ‘Millennial Waltz’ and ‘It’s Fine’ were all written specifically for a band & ensemble in late 2021 while all the others came to me here & there over the years. The years definitely contributed to the different genre and style influences throughout the album as I went through different interests and periods of life.
The songs got developed and went through a couple of iterations in different bands until Alex Colburn on guitar & brass, John McCarthy on bass and Al Lombardi on drums & percussion honed in their parts and made the tracks what they are. It’s humbling for me that such excellent musicians took on my songs with care and dedication every step of the way.”
“We went in with our parts more-or-less written and ready to go,” she adds, “but luckily we were open to exploration and happy accidents in the studio as well. The main thing about building tracks is that we don’t step all over each other, so we developed arrangements that kept songs neat & tidy and allowed all of the parts to shine in their own ways; which were all put together with care and perfection by our producing engineer George Dussault. George provided the ideal environment and expertise for us to do all of that and provided his insight on production when we needed it, and otherwise let us figure out our parts/arrangement decisions.”
Based out of his studio at Galilee Productions in Cumberland, Dussault’s production on the album takes it to an excellent level of sound. Nothing sounds off and it all sounds modern, this album isn’t trying to be a blast from the past or something that it’s not. It’s a genuinely great collection of songs with some of them leaning towards jazz & blues while others have more of a pop & alt-rock vibe. The variety that’s present is what I enjoy the most about “Surrender” along with how McGill sings. Her voice is excellent while serving as the key element that sets the mood of the entire record.
“Millennial Waltz” has a very rhythmic structure while incorporating steady doses of harmony and a kind of catchiness that sneaks up on the senses. The sax being played in the background really makes it stand out along with the funky guitar solo. The lead single off of the album, “Hope Street” has a really cool drum beat at the beginning and it’s the best example of McGill’s vocal brilliance while “It’s Fine” features a cool dynamic between the bass line and guitar. Other highlights off of the album include “Myth”, “Got It Going On” and “Waiting For”. While I did just mention a bunch of songs, I do suggest listening to the record from beginning to end for the complete listening experience.
For that particular experience, you can check out “Surrender” via Maddie McGill’s Bandcamp page at maddiemcgillband.bandcamp.com. It’s an excellent album with an abundance of musical versatility that can’t be overlooked.
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